The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will soon be home to a fleet of 2,000 driverless cars. (Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
For years, driverless cars have been touted as the future of transportation, but aside from Google's fleet of test cars and a few small-scale (albeit awesomely futuristic) test projects, it's never seemed all that real.
The city of Ann Arbor, in conjunction with the University of Michigan's Mobilty Transformation Center, plans to build a fleet of 2,000 driverless cars that could be on public roads within the next eight years — making it the first networked fleet in the United States and the largest driverless pilot project on the continent. This project differs from other driverless initiatives in that it's not about testing the technology itself, but rather testing how driverless cars could integrate into urban environments. The hope is that by 2021, Ann Arbor could have its very own fleet of self-driving taxis.
Getting driverless cars on the road isn't just a fun idea. Human error is the source of most traffic collisions, so driverless cars are thought to be a safer alternative. They're also cheaper and more efficient when used for car services.
The city is already nearing the end of an 18-month project, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, that tests radio communications devices at intersections. The city hopes to use these transmitters to supplement the sensors in the autonomous cars with information on weather and current traffic patterns.
The university now plans to build a closed-off, 32-acre test site before releasing the cars onto public roads. Costruction will begin in the spring, and the $6.5 million cost will be shared by the state government and the university. Last month, Michigan passed new laws enabling companies to test driverless cars on public roads, making this project possible.
Via Fast CoExist.